Comedic Buddhadharma teacher Wes 'Scoop' Nisker may not know the meaning of life, but he is willing to bet that it is not human beings. In his one-man show, "Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again," the author, radio commentator, Buddhist meditation teacher and performer explores the story of evolution, the physics of the universe, the inner workings of the earth's ecosystem and the implications for humankind's favorite animal - homo sapiens. He deconstructs the idea that the universe revolves around human beings and suggests a more realistic view of our species' role in the cosmos.
"I try to get people to become aware that they are midsized mammals, vertebrates," said Nisker in an interview last week. "I'll say it out loud, 'I'm a vertebrate and I'm proud!' "
The biological and evolutionary evidence all points against the notion that humans are uniquely important organisms, Nisker argues.
Wes ‘Scoop’ Nisker
Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca at the MACC
"There's a great case to be made that the universe was made for bacteria," he said. "They were here first. They're everywhere! There are more bacteria in your mouth right now than all the humans that have ever lived on planet Earth. They have roads and churches in there, whole civilizations between your cheeks. We go around thinking of ourselves as individuals when actually, we're walking ecosystems!"
Nisker encourages audiences to let go of the philosophy that separates humankind from the rest of life on earth.
"We need a new story, an upgrade of our mythology, because the old story isn't working well anymore," said Nisker. "I want a story that's going to make us feel connected to the life of the planet and of the universe."
Wes Nisker takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Studio Maui. Tickets are $15 or two for $25. Pre-show dinner prepared by Max World Bistro starts at 6 p.m. Call 575-9390 for tickets and information.
Nisker's unique worldview grew out of the philosophical experimentation of the '50s and '60s. Dissatisfied with the cultural emphasis on individualism and self-advancement, he set out along with his contemporaries to test alternate views of the world.
"We had our choice of all the religions and spiritual practices of the world, so we went to investigate," Nisker said. "We found the balance to our Western individualism in Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism, all of which have a much grander, more vast picture of the cycles of life."
Nisker believes that both Eastern and Western philosophies have important things to offer. "The genius of the West is to divide the world into pieces and to figure out how it works," said Nisker. "And it's great, it's brilliant at that. It's brought us many wonderful things. But the genius of the East is unification. It goes beyond the verbal dissecting of the world and the analytical mind and comes to a kind of wholeness."
To Nisker, unification and wholeness are an essential counterbalance to the Western world's preoccupation with self-advancement. "I think we're lost in a fog of individualism," Nisker said. "We've lost a sense of belonging to the universe, belonging to nature. We think of ourselves as on our own, and I think we desperately need to come back to a sense of being part of a wider community."
In Nisker's view, the race for self-advancement is a nothing but a dead end. Breaking free can be tricky, but the rewards are more than worth it.
"People have more and more, and they're less and less content," Nisker said. "When you really start to investigate your own mind, you see that satisfaction does not come from getting your latest desire met. It comes from calming the desire wheel in the mind, and being happy with mere existence, being happy with this moment, this breath."
Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca: Under the direction of Martin Santangelo, the award-winning Noche Flamenca has become Spain's most successful touring company. Formed in 1993 by Santangelo and his dancer wife, Soledad Barrio, the dance company is renowned for its stirring, emotional performances and is recognized as one of the most authentic flamenco troupes performing today. All aspects of flamenco - dance, song, and music - are interrelated and given equal weight in Noche Flamenca presentations, creating a true communal spirit within the company, reaching the very heart and soul of its audience.
Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca performs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Castle Theater. Tickets are $12, $28 and $35. Call 242-7469 or visit MauiArts.org for tickets.
"The Fantasticks": ProArts has extended its run of the delightful musical "The Fantasticks." This wonderful parable tells the story of a young man and the girl next door, their scheming fathers, romance, disillusionment and the realities of love. Directed by Doug Kendrick, the show features some of Maui's most talented performers, including Robert Wills, Leighanna Locke and Tom Althouse. With book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, "The Fantasticks" includes such great tunes as "Try to Remember," "Soon It's Gonna Rain," "I Can See It" and "They Were You."
"The Fantasticks" performs weekends at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through Jan. 29, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for kids 12 and younger. Call 463-6520 for tickets.
King Kekaulike High School presents "Big Boys Don't Cry," a show exploring the issues of domestic violence, alcoholism, false assumptions, presumption of guilt and the importance of true family. Written by Vern Harden and directed by Chris Kepler, the show is produced by special arrangement with Pioneer Drama Service Inc., Inglewood, Colo. The production may not be appropriate for children under 11.
"Big Boys Don't Cry" shows weekends at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, Jan. 28 through Feb. 6. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students or staff with any school ID. Tickets will be available at the door.